Nearly two years ago, Larry Elam of Collinsville was awarded $1 million by a Madison County jury in the first-ever successfully litigated "weld-rod" case in the country. Since then, local attorneys have been knocking at the Circuit Court trying to receive judgments for their injured clients.
On Aug. 1, Keith Short and Holly Reese of Goldenberg, Miller, Heller & Antognoli of Edwardsville filed two weld-rod cases in Madison County--bringing the total to nine suits filed in about a month.
On June 30, Short and Reese filed seven similar personal injury lawsuits seeking a combined total of $33.7 million on behalf of workers claiming exposure to manganese-containing welding fumes resulted in their neurological injuries.
The injured parties in the new suits--Ralph Shaw and William Lee--allege they inhaled neurotoxic welding fumes while using welding products or were near people using welding products while they were working.
“Any reasonable person, if adequately informed of the hazards of exposure to welding fumes, would not have willingly exposed themselves to welding fumes in the workplace without taking precautionary measures,” the suits claim.
Among the 24 defendants named in the suits were A.O. Smith, Dow Chemical, Praxair, General Electric and the American Welding Society.
People exposed to welding fumes absorb them into their body through inhalation, and according to the plaintiffs’, exposure for a period as short as 49 days causes disabling injuries.
The plaintiffs claim the defendants knew of the health hazards of manganese in welding fumes and conspired to suppress medical information about its toxic effects, failed to warn users of the health hazards, and breached their duty to instruct about proper ventilation.
The suits also allege permanent injuries which have diminished plaintiffs' earning capacities, restricted their lifestyles, required substantial medical care, and caused them great pain and mental anguish.
Shaw is seeking $4.3 million dollars in damages while Lee and his wife, Corolynn, who is also seeking damages for loss of consortium, are seeking at least $4.9 million in damages.
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